Exodus 15:27 MEANING

Exodus 15:27
(27) Elim--the next stage to Marah, where there were "twelve wells of water, and threescore and ten palm trees"--seems to be rightly identified with the Wady Ghurundel in which "abundant grass grows thick and high," where acacias and tamarisks are plentiful, and in which, notwithstanding the ruthless denudation of the country by the Arabs, there are still a certain number of palm-trees. These are not now "seventy" in number, neither are they the ideal palm-trees of pictures, or even such as grow in the Valley of the Nile and in Upper Egypt generally. They are "either dwarf--that is, trunkless--or else with savage hairy trunks, and branches all dishevelled" (Stanley: Sinai and Palestine, p. 68)--specimens of the palm-tree growing under difficulties. The exact number of "twelve wells," which is mentioned in the text, cannot now be traced with any distinctness; but there is a perennial brook which supports the vegetation through the whole of the year, and in the winter-time there is a large stream which flows down to the sea through the wady.--(Niebuhr: Description de l'Arabie, p. 347.)

They encamped there.--The head-quarters of the camp were at Elim (Wady Ghurundel); probably the mass of the people filled all the neighbouring wadys, as those of Useit, Ethal, and Tayibeh, or Shuweikah, which are all fertile, and have good pasturage.

Verse 27. - They came to Elim. Elim was undoubtedly some spot in the comparatively fertile tract which lies south of the "wilderness of Shur," intervening between it and the "wilderness of Sin" - now E1 Murkha. This tract contains the three fertile wadys of Ghurundel, Useit, and Tayibeh, each of which is regarded by some writers as the true Elim. It has many springs of water, abundant tamarisks, and a certain number of palm-trees. On the whole, Ghurundel seems to be accepted by the majority of well-informed writers as having the best claim to be considered the Elhn of this passage Twelve wells. Rather "springs." The "twelve springs" have not been identified; but the Arabs are apt to conceal the sources of their water supplies (Niebuhr, Arabie, p. 347). A large stream flows down the Wady Ghurundel in the winter-time (ibid.), which later becomes a small brook (Burckhardt, Syria, p. 778), and dries up altogether in the autumn. The pasture is good at most seasons, sometimes rich and luxuriant; there are abundant tamarisks, a considerable number of acacias, and. some palms. Three score and ten palm trees. The palm-trees of this part of Arabia are "not like those of Egypt or of pictures, but either dwarf - that is, truntdess - or else with savage hairy trunks, and branches all dishevelled" (Stanley, Sinai and Palestine, p. 68). There are a considerable number in the Wady Ghurundel, and others in the Wady Tayibeh (ib, p. 69). They encamped there. It has been observed that the vast numbers of the host would more than fill the Wady Ghurundel, and that while the main body encamped there, others, with their cattle, probably occupied the adjacent wadys - Useit, Ethal, and even Tayibeh or Shuweikah - which all offer good pasturage

15:22-27 In the wilderness of Shur the Israelites had no water. At Marah they had water, but it was bitter; so that they could not drink it. God can make bitter to us that from which we promise ourselves most, and often does so in the wilderness of this world, that our wants, and disappointments in the creature, may drive us to the Creator, in whose favour alone true comfort is to be had. In this distress the people fretted, and quarrelled with Moses. Hypocrites may show high affections, and appear earnest in religious exercises, but in the time of temptation they fall away. Even true believers, in seasons of sharp trial, will be tempted to fret, distrust, and murmur. But in every trial we should cast our care upon the Lord, and pour out our hearts before him. We shall then find that a submissive will, a peaceful conscience, and the comforts of the Holy Ghost, will render the bitterest trial tolerable, yea, pleasant. Moses did what the people had neglected to do; he cried unto the Lord. And God provided graciously for them. He directed Moses to a tree which he cast into the waters, when, at once, they were made sweet. Some make this tree typical of the cross of Christ, which sweetens the bitter waters of affliction to all the faithful, and enables them to rejoice in tribulation. But a rebellious Israelite shall fare no better than a rebellious Egyptian. The threatening is implied only, the promise is expressed. God is the great Physician. If we are kept well, it is he that keeps us; if we are made well, it is he that recovers us. He is our life and the length of our days. Let us not forget that we are kept from destruction, and delivered from our enemies, to be the Lord's servants. At Elim they had good water, and enough of it. Though God may, for a time, order his people to encamp by the bitter waters of Marah, that shall not always be their lot. Let us not faint at tribulations.And they came to Elim,.... On the twenty fifth of Nisan; for, according to Aben Ezra, they stayed but one day at Marah. Elim, as a late traveller (r) says, was upon the northern skirts of the desert of Sin, two leagues from Tor, and near thirty from Corondel; according to Bunting (s) it was eight miles from Marah:

where were twelve wells of water, and seventy palm trees; and so a very convenient, commodious, and comfortable place to abide at for a time, since here was plenty of water for themselves and cattle, and shady trees to sit under by turns; for as for the fruit of them, that was not ripe at this time of the year, as Aben Ezra observes. Thevenot (t) seems to confound the waters here with the waters of Marah; for he says, the garden of the monks of Tor is the place which in holy Scripture is called Elim, where were sventy palm trees and twelve wells of bitter water; these wells, adds he, are still in being, being near one another, and most of them within the precinct of the garden, the rest are pretty near; they are all hot, and are returned again to their first bitterness; for I tasted says he, of one of them, where people bathe themselves, which by the Arabs is called Hammam Mouse, i.e. the "bath of Moses"; it is in a little dark cave: there is nothing in that garden but abundance of palm trees, which yield some rent to the monks, but the seventy old palm trees are not there now. This does not agree with an observation of the afore mentioned Jewish writer, that palm trees will not flourish in the ground where the waters are bitter; though they delight in watery places, as Pliny (u) says; and yet Leo Africanus (w) asserts, that in Numidia the dates (the fruit of palm trees) are best in a time of drought. A later traveller (x) tells us, he saw no more than nine of the twelve wells that are mentioned by Moses, the other three being filled up by those drifts of sand which are common in Arabia; yet this loss is amply made up by the great increase in the palm trees, the seventy having propagated themselves into more than 2000; under the shade of these trees is the Hammam Mouse, or "bath of Moses", particularly so called, which the inhabitants of Tor have in great veneration, acquainting us that it was here where the household of Moses was encamped. Dr. Pocock takes Elim to be the same with Corondel; about four hours or ten miles south of Marah, he says, is the winter torrent of Corondel in a very narrow valley, full of tamarisk trees, where there is tolerable water about half a mile west of the road; beyond this, he says, about half an hour, or little more than a mile, is a winter torrent called Dieh-Salmeh; and about an hour or two further, i.e. about three or four miles, is the valley or torrent of Wousset, where there are several springs of water that are a little salt; and he thinks that one of them, but rather Corondel, is Elim, because it is said afterwards:

they removed from Elim, and encamped at the Red sea; and the way to Corondel, to go to the valley of Baharum, is part of it near the sea, where he was informed there was good water, and so probably the Israelites encamped there; and Dr. Clayton (y) is of the same mind, induced by the argument he uses: a certain traveller (z), in the beginning of the sixteenth century, tells us, that indeed the wells remain unto this day, but that there is not one palm tree, only some few low shrubs; but he could never have been at the right place, or must say a falsehood, since later travellers, who are to be depended upon, say the reverse, as the above quotations show. As to the mystical application of this passage, the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem make the twelve fountains answerable to the twelve tribes of Israel, and seventy palm trees to the seventy elders of the sanhedrim; and so Jarchi: and more evangelically the twelve fountains of water may denote the abundance of grace in Christ, in whom are the wells of salvation, and the sufficiency of it for all his people; and which the doctrine of the Gospel, delivered by his twelve apostles, discovers and reveals, and leads and directs souls unto; and the seventy palm trees may lead us to think of the seventy disciples sent out by Christ, and all other ministers of the word, who for their uprightness, fruitfulness, and usefulness, may be compared to palm trees, as good men in Scripture are, see Psalm 92:12,

and they encamped there by the waters; where they stayed, as Aben Ezra thinks, twenty days, since, in the first verse of the following chapter, they are said to come to the wilderness of Sin on the fifteenth day of the second month; here being everything agreeable to them for the refreshment of themselves and cattle, they pitched their tents and abode a while; as it is right in a spiritual sense for the people of God to abide by his word and ordinances.

(r) Shaw, ut supra. (Travels, p. 314.) (s) Travels, p. 82. (t) Travels into the Levant, B. 2. ch. 26. p. 166. (u) Nat. Hist. l. 13. c. 4. (w) Descriptio Africae, l. 1. p. 82. (x) Dr. Shaw, ut supra. (r)) (y) Chronolgy of the Hebrew Bible, p. 296, 297. (z) Baumgarten. Peregrinatio, l. 1. c. 21. p. 44.

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